The Georgia pecan industry is expanding tremendously, with growers planting as many additional trees as they can. Three dollars a pound for the fruit will do that...
In fact, there is now a tremendous shortage of commercial pecan trees because of the growth. Nurseries have sold their entire crop of trees for the next two years, and the waiting list keeps growing.
Georgia is the pecan capital of the world, growing more pecans than any other state. With high nut prices and demand, that industry is expanding as fast as they can, which means jobs and economic development.
Trey Pippen looks over the new 75 acres of pecan trees he is planting in West Dougherty County. He says most Georgia pecan producers are doing the same thing.
"This is probably the most significant year for acreage expanding pecan production we have ever had," Pippen said.
These men are grafting new seedlings planted to make one of the new hot varieties.
China's demand for pecans last year drove UP the price to between 2.50 to 3.50 a pound for most varieties, and now India and other emerging markets make future growth looking even more promising.
"We're expanding," Pippen said. "We're purchasing some additional acreage, and we've cleaned up some additional acreage that wasn't in production. We're planting new pecan trees."
And that has created a real shortage of seedlings. Look at this ten acres of new young trees that Pippen has planted to get big enough to plant on new acreage he is setting up. That means jobs and economic development.
"Anytime we are cleaning up, that's putting people to work. That was just sitting there. We're putting people to work planting trees. And farming it continuously. The Ag industry is really growing in the state of Georgia."
It takes about 7 to 8 years for these seedlings to become a producing tree, so it's a big investment for these growers. But one they expect to pay off for the next 60 to 70 years.
Buck Paulk's Valdosta nursery is one of the biggest pecan seedling providers in South Georgia. He is sold out for this year and next year, and already sold 50% of his 2014 crop of pecan trees. That's about 80,000 trees a year. That will give you an idea how big this expansion we are talking about.
The Georgia Department of Agriculture estimates the 2010 pecan crop at about $234 million dollars, and that number could be getting bigger in the future.